Big 8

Day 97-98 • June 6-7, 2012 •  Clay Center to Manhattan, KS •  45 miles

About halfway through today’s ride, near the town of Riley, we began hearing and feeling what sounded like mortar fire.  It got louder and began shaking the ground, a bit frightening, before I realized how close we were to the Fort Riley bombing range.  This realization and the observation that the highway we were on was free of mortar damage eased our minds a bit.  We made it to Manhattan unscathed and took a quick tour through the campus of my Alma Mater, Kansas State University.  It took me longer than I’d like to admit getting oriented well enough to find landmarks like Haymaker Hall, my old dormitory, or the Student Union building.  But when I was going to school K-State still belonged to the Big 8 athletic conference.  And I’d never ridden into town from the west before.  I’ll stick with the latter explanation. 

Zoe was pretty impressed with the Student Union, a bit bigger than BSU’s, and was happy to find a pint-sized K-State t-shirt that Slash could wear.  The shirt came attached to a stuffed tiger named Willie, as in Willie the Wildcat.  Somehow Willie made it past my one-stuffed-animal decree for the trip and accompanied us, shirtless, the rest of the way to New York. 

We stayed with our friend Katha in her apartment right next to campus and it was fun catching up with her.  It was a great location for exploring town and we decided to spend an extra day.  Zoe was still run down by allergies so this was also a chance to recharge Zoe’s batteries and get her some girl time with Katha.  The next day we spent a lot of time in the Beach Museum of Art as well as the new Flint Hills Discovery Center, both well worth seeing.  I’d hoped to take a hike in the nearby Konza Prairie reserve but that didn’t fit into the primary goal of rest for this stop. 

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